Making Your Own Baby Food
Simple & Economical
Pureeing, blending, and grinding...believe it or not, preparing baby food is easier than it sounds. Many parents find it to be very satisfying-and economical-experience. However, making baby food requires extra care to keep it safe and nutritionally superior. Follow these 5 simple steps, and you'll be ready to go!
1. Make sure your kitchen is clean & safe.
2. Make nutritious food choices.
- Cleanliness is a MUST. Babies are especially susceptible to digestive upsets, so wash your hands well with soap and water. Thoroughly all counter surfaces, cutting boards, utensils, cookware, and storage containers as well.
- Wash all fruits and vegetables before you begin preparation.
3. Prep and cook.
- Select fresh or frozen vegetables. Commercially canned vegetables are not recommended because or their high salt content. If you do use canned vegetables, rinse them off first to reduce the salt content, or select no-salt varieties.
- Select fresh, frozen, or canned fruits. Buy fruits that are canned in their own juices, or drain and rinse those packed in heavy syrup to remove the excess sugar.
4. Prepare foods with a texture appropriate for your baby's feeding stage.
- Wash, peel and remove seeds or pits from produce.
- Cook frozen and raw produce until tender on the stovetop, in the microwave, or by using a steamer. Whichever method you choose, add only a small amount of water. This will help your foods retain more vitamins and minerals.
- Cook meats, poultry, and egg yolks until well-done. Avoid putting egg whites in homemade baby food until baby's first birthday, because these may cause food allergies. To learn more about allergies and sensitivities, read Starting Solids: Tips & Guidelines.
- Do NOT add extra salt, seasonings, sugar, honey, or corn syrup. Remember, a baby's tastes are different than yours.
5. Store and use foods in a timely manner.
- Pureed & Ground Foods: Puree foods in a food processor, blender, or baby food grinder, or simply mash them with a fork. Add additional water, juice, formula, or breast milk to soften the consistency of the pureed food.
- Chopped Finger Foods: Older infants will enjoy feeding themselves bite-sized foods, once the master a "pincer grasp". Many adult foods, such as canned fruits, cooked vegetables, banana slices, bread, crackers, cheese, tender-chopped meat, and dry cereals can be served this way. Avoid hard, round foods, which can cause choking. Read Starting Solids: Tips & Guidelines for more choking prevention strategies.
Try these simple baby food recipes:
- Cover and refrigerate homemade baby food for immediate use; use within 3 days of preparation.
- For longer storage, homemade baby food can be poured into a plastic ice cube tray and placed in the freezer. Once frozen, put the cubes into a clean, airtight plastic bag. When ready to use, remove frozen cubes for single-serve portions. The cubes can be heated in a saucepan or in the microwave. Stir and check for proper serving temperature and to avoid hot spots.
- Label and date the homemade baby food. Fruits and vegetables may be kept frozen for 6-8 months. Frozen meat items should be used within 2 months.
- Cooked Meats and Poultry: Place ½ cup cubed, cooked meat into the blender. Add about 4 tablespoons of liquid (such as meat broth, water, breast milk, or formula). Blend until smooth.
- Fruits and Vegetables: Put ¾ cup cooked fruits or vegetables into the blender. Add 2 tablespoons of water or juice. Process until smooth.
- Creamed Fruit and Cottage Cheese: Put ½ cup of cottage cheese and 3 tablespoons of canned or cooked fruit into a blender. Add breast milk, formula or juice to reach the desired consistency. Process until smooth.
- Meal-in-One: Place 1 cup cooked meat, 2/3 cup cooked vegetables, ½ cup cooked rice (or noodles, potatoes, or baby cereal), 1 cup liquid (brother, vegetable juice, breast milk, or formula) into a blender. Puree to desired consistency. Freeze in ice cube trays. Makes 3 cups, or 15 food cubes.